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You've Been Pulled Over For Driving Under the Influence 4 Things You Should Do – And 3 Things You Shouldn't Do – To Help Your Case

Many of us have had the experience of driving along, completely oblivious in most cases, when we realize we are being followed by a police car. The blue car top police lights, the flashing of headlights, the diminishing space the police car pulling up and the back of our car can ruin an entire day. Of course, that feeling is worse if you're being followed after you've been to a family gathering or a dinner out where you've had a drink, or if you are under the influence of drugs.

It's a safe bet that no one enjoys that sinking feeling, or the legal issues that often follow. Embarrassment, shame, guilt, anger, uncertainty and defensiveness may all be a part of the moment. But, according to CT DUI lawyers Aaron Jainchill and Bill Beckert of Jainchill & Beckert, Attorneys-At-Law, knowing a few simple do's and don'ts can help you in the moment, and may be valuable later if you end up as a defendant in a DUI case.

Things to Do If You Are Pulled Over And You Believe It Is For Suspicion of DUI

DO pull over in a safe place.

When you see flashing lights in your rearview mirror, it is the law of CT that you pull over to a safe location. It is possible that the police car behind you is going to another incident. If you are the intended target, putting on your blinker and pulling over safely and as efficiently as possible will help to make the case later that you were not impaired. Showing you value your own safety and that of the officers involved is of value to your case. Even if you are under the influence of alcohol, you will fare best if you can navigate your car to a safe place; failing to do so can make a bad situation worse!

DO remain respectful and courteous – no matter what you were doing before you were pulled over.

No one welcomes being detained by law enforcement. But it is more important than ever before to give the police officer or officers involved their due respect. Says Attorney Jainchill, “They are doing a job, and in today's environment of heightened tensions across the nation between police and citizens, basic courtesy can go a long way.” Any perceived disrespect can be noted on the police report, and may result in your being taken into police custody unnecessarily. 

DO know where your license and registration are, and have fast access to them.

If you are able, immediately remove your license, registration and proof of insurance and put them on your dashboard so you aren't shuffling through your glove compartment while the law enforcement officer approaches the car. If you don't have time to retrieve the basics before an officer arrives at your vehicle window, put your hands at the 2:00 and 10:00 positions on your steering wheel, and keep them there until told to do otherwise. Don't make any sudden movements that could represent a threat to an officer. If the stop is at night, and you can, turn on the overhead light in your car. Showing the officer that you do not represent a threat is, again, valuable to a future case if your stop turns into one – and may keep you from getting a ticket if you have not been drinking. In all cases, turn down, or turn off, your audio and roll down your window so that the approaching officer can see you clearly.

It's important to know your civil rights – this knowledge can help you to make decisions that will protect you until you are able to meet with an attorney. Among your rights, you have the right to film your interaction with officers, you have the right to a detention that is reasonable in length and you have the right to request and receive certain identifying information about the officers involved – name and badge number will be helpful.

Perhaps the most powerful right you have when pulled over for a DUI is the right to remain silent until you seek legal advice. Attorney Jainchill advises, “Say as little as possible. You are not required to explain yourself, your situation or any other details of the period of your life preceding the incident. If you are asked, ‘Have you been drinking?' or 'Are you under the influence of drugs?', it's best to say nothing, or to say, ‘I won't be answering that question until my attorney is present.'” If you have been drinking and you are fairly certain that the officers pulling you over know that, let them know that you would like to contact your attorney before offering comment. “Police officers are not required to tell you why you are being pulled over, although there must be what is called ‘reasonable suspicion.' Reasonable suspicion could be erratic driving or the odor of alcohol in your vehicle or on your person, but it could also be a defective tail light, a missing license plate, reckless driving or excessive speed.” As you may not know the circumstances behind being detained, it is best to have an experienced attorney present to guide you how to proceed,” Attorney Beckert explained. "You definitely don't want to be taken to a police station without having legal counsel."

…And A Few “Don'ts” That Can Help Your Case

DON'T automatically reject a breathalyzer test.

Attorney Jainchill revealed, “The number one question I get is ‘if I get pulled over on a DUI, should I take the breathalyzer?' The way that the laws are set up in Connecticut, refusal to take the breathalyzer can result in a much longer license suspension than failing the breath test.” He continued, “Of course, there are some instances where it may be in your best interest to refuse a breathalyzer. That's why it is so incredibly important to have the best DUI lawyer available to you. If your situation involves an incident with another vehicle, or there are other extenuating circumstances, you will want to consult with a lawyer before making any decisions or statements. But if you've never been arrested before for DUI, and there was no collision or incident involving injury, it's generally in your interest to take the roadside breathalyzer.” Finally, he added, “If you do take a breath, blood, or urine test, and your blood alcohol content results are above the legal limit, or you are given any kind of field sobriety test, it does not mean an automatic suspension of your license or a guilty verdict. You could be recommended for alcohol counseling or alcohol education. An experienced DUI lawyer can raise any of a number of defenses on your behalf – another reason why it's so important to hire the best DUI lawyer you can find.”

DON'T consent to a vehicle search.

We mentioned the rights you should know earlier. Among them is consent law, or the right to withhold consent for a vehicle search. The attending law enforcement officer may ask you if they can search the vehicle, and it is unlikely that the officer will remind you of your right to say no. But without probable cause or a search warrant, you can refuse that request. As always, try to avoid being antagonistic. A direct response that you do not consent should be enough to keep your vehicle from being searched.

DON'T answer follow-up questions if you are concerned that they could incriminate you.

If an officer begins asking about your previous criminal record or driving record, threatens time in jail for refusing to answer, or asks how many servings of alcohol you've had prior to your stop, it's best to remain tight-lipped, "Any question or request that concerns you should not be answered until you speak with an experienced lawyer -- that can make a huge difference." Attorney Jainchill advises. "Even if an officer takes you to the police station, it's best to remain as silent as possible and to avoid answering potentially incriminating questions. As a DUI lawyer who has worked with many, many defendants, we are comfortable with the legal issues that arise following a DUI stop, and we have an incredible record of success."

DON'T wait to contact a good DUI defense attorney.

Attorney Jainchill recommends a few questions to ask as you interview attorneys to represent you in a DUI case. “Ask if the attorney will handle the case personally, or if he or she will hand the case to staff lawyers. Request specific information about fees. See if the attorney has a high success rate in DUI defense cases. Communication will be important – ask if there will be regular communication and a way for you to contact not just the staff, but your attorney. These are all very important parts of your case, and you'll want to be comfortable not just with the reputation of the attorney you ultimately choose, but with what you can expect and how he or she will represent you.”

Knowing some information about the do's and don'ts of traffic stops can help, but if you are charged with DUI and searching for the best DUI attorneys, if you or someone you know is dealing with a DUI charge, Jainchill & Beckert is a great place to start. We invite you to learn more about us, hear from our clients fill out our form and set up a free consultation with us. Or get in touch with us at (860) 383-6719 – we're ready to help you fight your DUI and protect your rights!

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